False Creek Water Monitoring


The False Creek Water Monitoring Program, a new citizen science initiative by Fraser Riverkeeper and Swim Drink Fish Canada, launched in July 2018 on Granville Island. In an effort to learn more about water quality during the recreational water season in False Creek, Fraser Riverkeeper will be sampling through to October.

The primary purpose of the program is the protection of public health and safety from contaminated water. The goal of the program is to provide the public with current, reliable water quality data and prevent the spread of waterborne illnesses by making it easy for people to know when their water is contaminated and when it is clean for swimming.

Fraser Riverkeeper focuses on sampling well-used recreational hotspots around False Creek where stand up paddlers have been seen falling into the water, dogs and children wade at the shallows, kayakers are drenched by splashing water, and adventurous individuals plunge in to cool off.


Latest Conditions from Swim Guide

Click here to read the First Season Report of our False Creek Water Monitoring Program

Quick Facts

  • The current program builds on the successes of 2017 water monitoring project in Burrard Inlet and False Creek which demonstrated an appetite for an ongoing citizen-science monitoring hub around downtown Vancouver waters.
  • This program was inspired by the success of the Toronto Harbour Monitoring Program, where Lake Ontario Waterkeeper has been collecting water samples and testing for E. coli since 2016. Waterkeeper collects water samples from three main locations in the Inner Harbour, and each of these locations has a combined sewer overflow (CSO) pipe flowing into it. These locations are on Swim Guide and are updated weekly.
  • An estimated 400,000 Canadians get sick every year from swimming in polluted waters.
  • As Metro Vancouver works toward BC's goal to eliminate sewage overflows by 2050, the city is undergoing separation of its antiquated combined sewer overflow system.
  • In 2016, 3,652,000 m^3 of untreated wastewater flowed into False Creek over 495 hours from the Heather Street CSO.


False Creek Sample Results

Year-round, the False Creek Water Monitoring Program staff and a team of well-trained volunteers collect weekly samples from the following sites: Sunset Beach - Aquatic Centre; Brokers' Bay; Alder Bay; Olympic Village Dock; Habitat Island; David Lam Park; Charleson Park.

Samples are then brought to Fraser Riverkeeper’s in-house, microbiological IDEXX lab on Granville Island and analysed using a Colilert system for testing E. coli levels in water. As E. coli is an indicator of sewage, the more E. coli present in a sample the greater risk to public health and the environment. Our data helps provide more information about the recreational water quality in this very popular and busy water body. Vancouver Coastal Health monitors three locations in False Creek: East, Central, and West.

All new sites have been added to Swim Guide, a free app and website, where the sampling results will be published weekly.

To read more about Swim Guide check out the website here or our recent post: http://www.fraserriverkeeper.ca/whats_new_to_swim_guide


Latest Sampling Results

E.coli count MPN/100ml - Last sampled: Jan. 24, 2018

Location Single sample result (400 E.coli/100mL) Geomean (last 5 samples) (200 E.coli/100mL) 
Brokers' Bay  10.8 13.0
Alder Bay  1 Not available- sample not taken two weeks ago
Charleson Park 4.1 10.6
Habitat Island  21.4 32.2
Olympic Village  65.2 48.7
  17.4 Not available- sample not taken two weeks ago
Sunset Beach - Aquatic Centre 17.7 9.4


See previous sample results below:

Recreational water quality criteria

Fraser Riverkeeper – Swim Drink Fish monitors the water quality at 7 Vancouver False Creek-area beaches. Sampling will be conducted from July to December. Fraser Riverkeeper follows the Guidelines for Canadian Recreational Water Quality. The recommended threshold for bathing is:

- a geometric mean of 200 E coli/100mL and a single sample of 400 E coli/100 mL.

A beach is marked Green in Swim Guide when geometric mean results are under 200 E.coli / 100 mL water and single sample results are below 400 E.coli/100mL.

A beach is marked Red when the geometric mean results are equal to or above 200 E.coli / 100 mL water or single sample results are above 400 E.coli/100 mL. 

A beach is marked Grey when there are no current results or there is no available information.

The geometric mean is calculated based on the 5 last samples. 

The single sample is the weekly sample result. 

To read more about our findings for 2018, click here to read our First Season Report.

Thank You LUSH!

Thank you to the generous support of LUSH Cosmetics for funding Fraser Riverkeeper’s in-house, microbiological laboratory on Granville Island.